OSU in 1st place, OU tied for 14th at NCAA Golf Championships
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — After witnessing a narrow birdie miss on a third consecutive hole, Austin Eckroat let his putter slip through his hands and closed his eyes in dismay.
"I was hitting good putts," Eckroat said. "It wasn't like I was doing anything wrong. I wasn't getting frustrated. I was just disappointed that they weren't going in. It wasn't too hard to keep giving myself opportunities and keep hitting it close."
An Oklahoma State sophomore from Edmond, Eckroat otherwise played almost flawlessly on Day 1 at the NCAA Championships while navigating the challenge-filled, par-72 Blessings Golf Club. After a first round that included four birdies and a bogey on a windy Friday, he is tied for second in the individual standings at 3-under par.
"I think he just did what he does," coach Alan Bratton said. "Austin's really good and he's been on a trajectory like this since I first saw him play in junior high. He's been on a steady progression of getting better. He's learned a lot and he's a good leader for us."
As the top-ranked team and defending national champions, the Cowboys got off a solid start with a 2-over round to claim first place in the team standings. Zach Bauchou and Matthew Wolff shot 1-over for OSU, each totaling four birdies.
"The strength of our team is our depth and those guys showed that today, with Austin shooting 3-under and Zach got a quality score and Matt bounced back (on the back nine)," Bratton said. "That's what makes us go."
Oklahoma concluded the first round in the middle of the pack, tied for 14th out of 30 teams in the field at 17-over. The Sooners were led by Patrick Welch at 3-over and Blaine Hale and Brad Dalke at 4-over.
"Overall, it just wasn't a very good day," coach Ryan Hybl said. "This golf course exposes your bad shots and boy, I saw a lot of really bad things today.
"Some of it's probably mental, but it's all about execution out here and it's about committing to what you're trying to do. I saw some uncommitted golf swings for sure and off the tee box if you're not in a good spot here, then you're just going to be dead."
OU and OSU tee off bright and early Saturday, with both starting at about 7 a.m.
"We'll be way better tomorrow morning," Hybl said. "Fortunately for us, if we come out and we have enough firepower to shoot an even-par on a golf course like this, you race up the leaderboard. That's the cool thing about coming to a place like this, you know you're only one really good round away from passing a lot of folks."